Break Action
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Basic Information

A type of action for a breech loading single action firearm whereby the weapon hinges open at the breech, allowing a round of ammunition to be loaded directly into the chamber. The act of hinging the weapon open usually doubles as the cocking stroke.

Once the ammunition is loaded the weapon is hinged closed again and locks shut ready for firing.

This action is typically found in small arms - many sporting shotguns and airguns for example, as well as the M79 Grenade Launcher and equivalent less-lethal weapons like the ARWEn. A rare example of a piece of break action ordnance would be the 7.5cm leichte infantrie geschutze used for close support by the German infantry in WW2. Derringers and flare pistols are also traditionally break-action weapons.

The early Hall rifle was notable for being a powder and shot version of a break-loader: the chamber hinged upward from the barrel for loading and was then closed down again and fired by either flintlock or caplock. This was, in many ways a hybrid between breech and muzzle loading as the ammunition was still pushed into the chamber backwards, but bypassed the whole of the barrel and thus avoided many of the problems with muzzle loading rifles discussed elsewhere. Similar designs were attempted in a few other weapons, but the coming of metallic cartridges tended to make the whole business obsolete.


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